Up to three million Muslims are expected to descend on the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj pilgrimage which officially starts on Friday.
On Thursday thousands had already gathered at the Grand Mosque in the city, regarded as Islam’s holiest site.
They stood shoulder to shoulder for afternoon prayers.
For many pilgrims it can mean a lifetime of saving to attend the Hajj, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. The costs can run into thousands of dollars.
They must walk seven times round the cube-shaped Kaaba in the centre of the mosque as part of the pilgrimage.
Many will also visit the holy city of Medina where the prophet Mohammed was buried over 1,400 years ago, as well as praying at nearby Mount Arafat.
It is also possible to watch it live on YouTube.